The past few weeks have been extremely exciting for fringe culture fans everywhere. For those in the know, the uber-fantastique film festival, L'Etrange just wrapped up, with one of its best line-ups ever. The festival included showings of Frank Henenlotter's incredible looking documentary “That's Sexploitation,” John Waters “Desperate Living” (my personal favorite of his), tributes to “Last Horror Film” star Caroline Munro and even a showing of Erich von Stroheim's “Foolish Wives.” Of course, the granddaddy move was the focus on the work of Stephen Sayadian, with each film being presented by the man himself. Getting to see an artist I admire greatly get this kind of recognition is a huge joy. For the curious, there's also a good interview up on Twitch.
My only problem with a lot of the press, which has honestly been wonderful, is that I think we can officially kill the term “porn” when talking about an artist like Sayadian. If you're gonna call films like “Cafe Flesh” porn, then you better call “In the Realm of the Senses” and “Anatomy of Hell” porn too. Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with porn in and of itself. Not at all, but there is an ocean of difference between films like “Nightdreams” and say, “Anal Angels 9.” If guys like Sayadian or say, Gerard Damiano, were European and had bigger budgets, the porn term never would have been applied. It's a classist move, after all no one calls Egon Schiele a pornographer, even though he featured erotic themes in his artwork. To me, nudity and sexuality do not make automatically make something pornography.
Speaking of thrilling artists, the news of Alejandro Jodorowsky's new film, “The Dance of Reality” has emerged, along with a trailer that looks like it is going to be yet another masterpiece from the man. The imagery already brings to mind both “Santa Sangre” and “Viva la Muerte,” which was helmed by Jodorowsky collaborator and fellow Panic movement founder Fernando Arrabal.
Another new development, at least on my end, was a highly rewarding trip to the local used bookstore. After looking through the Art books for a minute, I immediately bee lined it to the film section. For a minute, it appeared be the usual one-two-three punch of dry academic journals on Truffaut and general movie review guides, but then I saw it. A hardback copy of “Sex in the Movies” by Jeremy Pascall and Clyde Jeavons, a book I have read about for years. In fact, it was recommended to me by one of the most brilliant film writers I have ever known, so I knew it was a must have. Now, if that felt like kismet, then what I found almost right next to it was like running into a dear old friend. Another hardbound book entitled “Cut! The Unseen Cinema” by Baxter Phillips. This book is very special to me since it was one that I studied from page to page as a young girl. Covertly, of course, since it is brimming with nudity and violence, as well as images of religious/political subversiveness. On one hand, I was probably way the hell too young to be reading it but on the other hand, I am grateful for the exposure. It was this book that planted some of the key seeds for my development as a film writer. Titles that are huge to me now are mentioned in that book, including Ken Russell's “The Devils” and Walerian Borowcyzk's “La Bete.” I haven't looked at “Cut!” since I was a kid, so finding it again feels like love.
As for the film writing, if you haven't already, please check out some of the latest for Dangerous Minds. I got to explore the rare landscape of kung fu prurience with “Vixens of Kung Fu: Tale of Yin Yang,” which features an all star cast and some of the dodgiest martial arts this side of your Low Mein buffet. On top of that, I also write about the Mondo occult relic, “Witchcraft '70," which is goony in a swanky-devil-scare sort of way.
Hope everyone reading this is having a wonderful and safe weekend. Fall's almost here and what better way to celebrate it than watching Iggy Pop on German TV lip syncing around a bunch of confused looking models? Enjoy!